Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program enlisted to improve literacy skills in children

By: Montgomery Pet Partners (MPP)
| Published 03/29/2016


THE WOODLANDS, Texas - The mission of the R.E.A.D. program is to improve the literacy skills of children through the assistance of registered therapy teams as literacy mentors. The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program improves children's reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: Reading to an animal. But not just any animal, R.E.A.D. companions are registered therapy animals who volunteer with their owner/handlers as a team, going to schools, libraries and many other settings as reading companions for children.

Volunteer teams from Montgomery Pet Partners (MPP), a therapy animal organization, provide the teams to the schools. Volunteers are not only trained as therapy teams but also receive additional training to work with students in the R.E.A.D. program. MPP, a non-profit organization, uses this naturally occurring affection connection between people and pets to fulfill their mission.

How does one become a R.E.A.D. Therapy Team? It takes about four months to become a R.E.A.D. registered team. It starts with MPP’s Mock Drill, followed by a workshop, evaluation, orientation and shadowing. About one in four teams actually going through the process become a therapy team. With ten schools and four libraries currently in the R.E.A.D. program, MPP has five more schools on the waitlist. “We would love to have more R.E.A.D. teams to accommodate these schools,” says long time MPP President, Wendy Hoffer. MPP would love to provide these waitlisted schools with R.E.A.D. teams. It takes a special person, who has the right dog and available time to commit to the R.E.A.D program.

Cheryl Rhoads, Assistant Children’s Librarian at Lone-Star College-Tomball Community Library, praises the program, also, “The R.E.A.D. dogs and their handlers provide an invaluable service to the library and our customers. We appreciate the time and effort that goes into training these remarkable [therapy] dogs, as well as the benefit of their presence to children who may be struggling readers. The dogs provide a comfortable non-judgmental environment for the child, and in this atmosphere amazing things can happy. Many times a reluctant reader will say, ‘It’s too hard,’ or ‘I don’t want to read’. Once they are engaged with a new canine friend, those thoughts are banished. The dog’s quiet companionship is all the encouragement the children need to work diligently at sounding out unfamiliar words with or without the help of a facilitator. You read about the success of the program and know that it is a great one, but to see it in action is truly indescribable. It provides a great experience for struggling readers or those who might have trouble reading out loud as well as those who do not. We are very happy to be able to offer the R.E.A.D. program.”

The R.E.A.D. program, developed by Intermountain Therapy Animals in 1999, first launched its program in Salt Lake City, Utah. Since that time more than 3,500 therapy teams have trained and registered with this program. Today, thousands of R.E.A.D. teams work throughout the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Finland, France, Sweden, South Africa, Slovenia, Spain, and beyond. R.E.A.D. is one of those ideas that in the words of Bill Moyers, “pierces the mundane to arrive at the marvelous.”

Montgomery Pet Partners based in Montgomery County is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization serving the community by providing pet therapy services to schools, libraries, hospitals, senior facilities, and specialty organizations. For more information, visit or contact us at